Free ranging

Bill in Hamlet

10 Years
Sep 14, 2009
I have a Roo and four hens. They are all Buff Orpingtons. I let them out for the first time about 2 hrs before dark and they had a blast scratching in the new pinestraw that my daughter placed around the trees near their coop. Today I let them out to enjoy the antics but to my dimay they went into the woods and traveled pretty far chasing bugs. I couldn't lure them back with treats they were getting enough on their own. I worry that if they stray to far they will become victims to the neighborhood dogs. How can I persuade them to stay resonably near to the house.? They prefer the woods over the large mowed yard. More bugs and aerial cover from the redtail hawks I presume. They are real excited to get out for an adventure. I am open to suggestions. The Roo is attentive and protective but no match for the dogs/hawks.

Fair Winds,

Can't keep em close, they aren't going to listen no matter what you do. They're chickens, they'll wander around being chickens, sorry.

If you have neighborhood dogs that are likely to be loose, and you are worried, keep them penned up is my best advice. You're right about them being somewhat safer from hawks in the woods, not quite so safe from some other preditors, but really, not quite so many as some might assume though. Mine wander our woods, and during the day, they'll likely be safe enough... except for those dogs.
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Ours are crazy for peanuts. All I have to do is call "peanuts", and shake some peanuts in a plastic cup, and they come as fast as they can!

We get in-the-shell peanuts at the feed mill.
What I'm really concerned with is will they get lost. They concentrate so hard when chasing all the bugs in the woods I doubt that any of them will remember how to get back. I dont like doing the spider is on me dance that I do going through the gossemer of the black widows webs out there.

5'11"- 300# Man acting like a lil' girl is not dignified...

Fair Winds,

Mine too and I'm greatful. Did I mention I HATE SPIDERS. A friend of mine when I was a young'un was bitten by a brown recluse. He lost his thumb on his right hand. It was pretty tramatic watching the development of that. My girls love them though, if it moves they devour it with glee.

Fair Winds,


I learned my lesson today about neighborhood dogs. I use a broom to gently chase my birds back where I want them. So far, they haven't wandered too far from their coop. Not that that mattered with this dog.
You guys don't give your chickens enough credit. My rooster and 15 pullets range from dawn til dusk every day. While I can't say it's been incident free, the rooster does his job well. They observe the natural boundaries (creek, old woods), as well as road without fencing. Just remember, if left to their own devices chickens will rarely travel beyond sight of their laying/food area.

Not to mention the pest control benefits of free-ranging. My girls devoured a 4 foot snake that had found itself too far from the brush pile this morning.

In short, free 'em. They'll thank you by giving a hand raking leaves.
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